Friday, March 04, 2005

Stop introducing errors in copy

This thread about how to avoid introducing errors in copy has a lot of great advice. (From

A page designer has recognized that she is adding too many of her own errors into display type and copy when she is changing things on the page. She asked for ways to avoid this -- or how to fix her errors before others see them.

Some of the tips include:
* Take a break between making changes on the page and proofing it. You'll have a fresher perspective and will find more errors.
* When handing off a proof, circle the copy you typed in or the changes you've made. (We do this on late proofs at the Dallas Morning News.)
* Proof a hard copy, not on the monitor.
* Allow as many people to read behind you as possible, but make sure there's at least one person doing it. It's embarrassing to have others find your mistakes, but not nearly as embarrassing as having them make it to print.
* Use an editing checklist so that you don't forget to look at any part of the page.
* Have whoever proofed the page initial it so that there's more accountability and more impetus to eliminate errors.
* Read your work aloud.
* Read things backward: From the last paragraph to the first in long articles, from the last word to the first in headlines, cutlines and other display type. This will help divorce you from the story line and focus on the words.
* Never type in an proper noun. Always copy and paste. This is fantastic advice. It's just too easy to mistype, and those errors are harder to find later.
* If you're making changes late, when there won't be time for another proof, make someone watch over your shoulder. You need a second set of eyes on every word on the page.
* Be compulsive about spell check. Make that the last thing you do before shipping a page, always.
And, of course, try not to be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, which is why there are copy editors in the first place. Our goal just needs to be to keep them to a minimum and out of display type.


At 12:58 PM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Phillip Blanchard said...

As someone whose mind sometimes races ahead of his fingers, I can appreciate taking extra steps to keep typing errors out of copy. But "read your work aloud"?

At 4:07 PM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

I don't know that it will help with typos. But it might help with missing words.


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